Buyers tied to Russia, Soviet republics made 86 all cash sales

Was it for favors or things beyond the condos, or were they just laundering money?

— BY ANITA KUMAR

Aleksandr Burman, a Ukrainian who engaged in a health care scheme that cost the federal government $26 million and was sentenced to a decade in prison, paid $725,000 cash for a condo at a Trump Tower I in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. in 2009.

Leonid Zeldovich, who has reportedly done extensive business in the Russian-annexed area of Crimea, bought four Trump units outright at a cost of more than $4.35 million, three of them in New York City between 2007 and 2010.

And Igor Romashov, who served as chairman of the board of Transoil, a Russian oil transport company subject to U.S. sanctions, paid $620,000 upfront for a unit at a building adorned with the future U.S. president’s name in Sunny Isles Beach in 2010.

Buyers connected to Russia or former Soviet republics made 86 all-cash sales — totaling nearly $109 million — at 10 Trump-branded properties in south Florida and New York City, according to a new analysis shared with McClatchy. Many of them made purchases using shell companies designed to obscure their identities.

| McClatchy Washington Bureau
via Buyers tied to Russia, Soviet republics made 86 all cash sales | McClatchy Washington Bureau

 

A Christian Nationalist Blitz – The New York Times

The hard right evangelicals who put Trump in power see a window of opportunity open across the country with so many legislatures in the hands of highly conservative GOP legislators. They are certainly going to use this window to sow more exclusion, more division, and rafts of discriminatory laws disguised as “religious freedom” measures.

The purpose of these mostly unconstitutional bills is to get out the vote the next two election cycles. If hard right evangelicals can’t get enthused for Trump anymore, they can for these bills.

See Katherine Stewart’s article below:

The sponsors of Project Blitz have pinned their deepest hopes on the third and most contentious category of model legislation. The dream here is something that participants in the conference call referred to in awed tones as “the Mississippi missile.” The “missile” in question is Mississippi’s HB 1523, a 2016 law that allows private businesses and government employees to discriminate, against L.G.B.T. people for example, provided that they do so in accordance with “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The bill offers extraordinary protections, not to all religious beliefs per se, but to a very narrow set of beliefs associated mostly with conservative religion. If you hold a different set of religious beliefs, like, say, a commitment to gender and L.G.B.T. equality, there is no liberty in this bill for you.

In another piece of model legislation, the blitzers’ goal is to get state legislatures to resolve that, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s recent decision on same-sex marriage, “This state supports and encourages marriage between one man and one woman and the desirability that intimate sexual relations only take place between such couples.” We have known for a long time that Christian nationalists seek to control what goes on in other people’s bedrooms. The striking thing about this model bill is the cruelty with which it advances the argument. The bill claims that people in same-sex relationships have a “higher instance of serious disease.”

It would be touching to think that the sponsors of Project Blitz have at last turned their attention to health care, but, no — their concern here, according to the guidebook, is that all of this gay sex is costing taxpayers lots of money — “estimated to be in the billions of dollars annually,” according to the bill template.

via Opinion | A Christian Nationalist Blitz – The New York Times

Public Shaming or not, the FDA Should out Companies Blocking Generic Drugs

This is a good thing, drug prices in this country are killing people who can’t afford them.

The Food and Drug Administration plans this week to effectively begin publicly shaming brand-name drug companies that stand in the way of competitors trying to develop cheaper generic drugs.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told reporters on Monday and Tuesday that the agency will unveil a website on Thursday, May 17 that names names of such companies. More specifically, the website will publicly reveal the identity of 50 branded drugs and their makers that have blocked generic development. The website will also be updated “on a continuous basis” to list additional names.

In fielding questions from reporters, Gottlieb denied that the effort was a form of public shaming. “I don’t think this is publicly shaming,” Gottlieb said, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. “I think this is providing transparency in situations where we see certain obstacles to timely generic entry.”

via FDA to start naming names of pharma companies blocking cheaper generics | Ars Technica

Jon Stewart Takes Over the Late Show to Rant About GOP and Fox News Trump Contortions

a few of the topics covered:

The Republican convention, Donald Trump, Fox News, the GOP, Jon Stewart, republican gymnastics, the Roger Ailes resignation, Sean Hannity, The Late Show, twists, teleprompters, Ivanka, narcissists, blue collar billionaires & how that’s not a thing, elitism, who’s a Christian, Religion, PopeX immigration

A New Year’s Resolution Challenge for All – Always Augment Your Intelligence

The other day I saw someone online boast about how they knew some obscure English etymology fact as they proclaimed that they ‘didn’t even have to look it up!’ Their pride in their knowledge of a trivial fact was a revelation for me: my generation usually takes great pride in their knowledge of facts, as if knowing something obscure were of value by itself. However does knowing facts matter as much in this day and age, and does knowing more facts than your neighbor make your life better anymore than having more beer caps would?

Remember when you memorized kingdoms, phylums, orders, species in that branching tree of life? That's all been uprooted and it's better and more useful to look up the clade and phylogeny of species now.
Remember when you memorized kingdoms, phylums, orders, species in that branching tree of life? That’s all been uprooted and it’s better and more useful to look up the clade and phylogeny of species now.

Before you automatically object, please take a moment to weigh some values against the facts you treasure.

First – Is it better to know things, or is it better to know how to know new things? Is it better to commit things to memory, or is it better to commit patterns, learning tools, logic, faces, friends, beautiful moments, and art to memory? Is the knowledge that you have as important as the journey to gain it?

Second – Any bare fact in and of itself is pretty trivial – and gaining that fact is more trivial still. This thudded home to me with great force on my last vacation as I watched a couple unfold a map, and pore over it, trying to find some location. Meanwhile their teen kept trying to interject and they kept hushing her. It took the teen pushing her phone screen with a pinpointed map on it in her parents face for them to recognize that she had just asked her phone and found the spot they’d both been arguing over and trying to find for ten minutes. She’d done it in seconds.

Third – Our memories are fallible, and we all have built in biases. These are inescapable conditions of being human. What we think we know is sometimes wrong. e.g. My wife tells me I’m wrong a lot. I think it was Socrates who said something akin to “The unexamined life is not worth living” so why don’t you examine your assumptions and “knowledge” on occasion?

Fourth: Our biases aren’t all socially evolved conditions of being human, some are built in by purposeful lies. That’s known as propaganda, and propaganda is driven by fear and hate. Propaganda only works with the ignorant, or the with the willfully ignorant who never test their knowledge, challenge their assumptions, or question what they hear.

Fifth: Your human perceptions are also flawed, maybe that song’s not really about a cross-eyed bear. (mondegreen – you could look it up.)

So why think you know some fact, or take a guess, when instead you can just ask Google, Siri, Alex, or even Bing? Why not double check even if you think you know? When I thought I knew the quote author above I was a bit wrong…. Yes, it was Socrates sort of, but only as paraphrased by Plato’s recollection of his speech at his trial. I just learned something new that I thought I already knew. So there’s the power of augmenting your intelligence. Finding that out was as simple as asking my pad.

Perhaps to my generation facts are of more value simply because of the efforts you had to go to just to obtain them – as my many trips to the library for my high school debate team attest to… nowadays finding things out has become trivial with all of the online data tools and search engines that we have at our beck and call.

In this millenium why shouldn’t you Google, ask Siri, or Alexa, almost anything just to double check? Why wouldn’t you augment your intelligence with the biggest brain and knowledge base on the planet: the Internet? Please take a New Year’s resolution to start asking Google and Siri more, start augmenting your feeble human intelligence, in this coming year stop handicapping your brain friends. Be not proud of what you know – instead be proud that you are smart enough to look it up.

Crossposted to LittleGreenFootballs.com .

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO): “Oregon Spirit” (Performed By Lisa Loeb)

I’m normally averse to profanity at this website, but in this case the curses and profanity are so richly deserved that I must post it. One other thing: good recovery at the Federal health care site (Healthcare.gov,) I’m glad that they could serve the healthcare sign up needs for Oregonians.

Warning: NSFW

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO): "Oregon Spirit" (Performed By Lisa Loeb) – YouTube.

More on this IT debacle at Information Week.

Intelligence Gathering and the Unowned Internet – NSA, Berkman Center Panel Discussion

A good discussion on what’s right and what’s wrong with the current NSA rule sets and oversight. It starts dry but gets very interesting, please stick with it to the end.

The long-term viability of an unowned, open Internet remains in question. Any analysis of where the Internet is headed as a protocol and a platform must take into account the activities of both public and private entities that see the Internet as a source of intelligence — and a field of contention. Yochai Benkler, Bruce Schneier, and Jonathan Zittrain of the Berkman Center are joined by John DeLong and Anne Neuberger of the National Security Agency in a conversation moderated by Berkman Faculty Director Terry Fisher on the future of an open internet in the face of challenges to privacy in an unsecure world.
More info on this event here: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/events/2…

This talk was co-sponsored by: the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the Harvard Law School American Civil Liberties Union, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, National Security Journal, and National Security and Law Association.

License

Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)

via Intelligence Gathering and the Unowned Internet – YouTube.

Post Panamax? What’s that?

IMG_2433-2
The Sanko Royal passes through the narrow Gatun Locks in 2008

Great things are happening all around us, but the average person is not noticing them. How many have heard about the widening of the Panama canal, or the effects that will have on shipping? Slated to complete in 2015 the “Post-Panamax” shipping world will be different, and three US ports are making ready, including the port of Miami.


One of the biggest drills in the world finished drilling the second of two underwater tunnels in Miami. The project aims to boost the city’s seaport, and give Miami an economic lift when the Panama Canal is widened.

Great Tripod Found at Crick Camera Store

This past week I got a new camera tripod, and it’s really sort of wonderful. It’s manufactured by Benro, and marketed as “Mefoto”. The best thing about it besides the amazing stability in a light tripod is the fact that it folds up so small. I’m able to fit it into an airline carry on bag because the legs flip back on the body. You can also attach just a leg to the center post to make it turn into a monopod.

Here’s what it looks like at Amazon, but the best news is that I found a local camera store that matched the Amazon price when Amazon had a back order wait of over two weeks.

Crick Camera store is the best one I’ve seen this side of B&H, and they have a wonderful staff who are conversant in everything photographic. When I mentioned how I lost my eyepiece while putting a card in it to block the light, they knew why I would want to do that for wide angle astro-photography as just one instance.

Not only did they steal a march on Amazon who had to back order the Benro tripod (mid May was the arrival I got quoted,) but they also had everything else I needed. The atmosphere was relaxed, cordial, and not snooty as some photography stores get when they cater to pros. So hats off to Crick – I was really impressed and will be back often.

President Obama’s Statement On Attack On Libyan Embassy

President Obama’s Statement On Attack On Libyan Embassy – YouTube.